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An Anti-Racist Reading List: Five Essential Titles for Designers

collage of books featured in article

How can design contribute to the fight against racism? As a place to start, the African American Design Nexus—an initiative developed by the Frances Loeb Library in collaboration with the GSD African American Student Union—has curated five essential titles for anti-racism reading.

The recommendations come from a list of over 45 books on race and design crowdsourced from the GSD community in honor of the 50th anniversary of the first Black History Month celebrations. The open-access bibliography is designed to “showcase and initiate conversation about the work of Black designers throughout the world and to critically re-examine the legacy of racial discourses in modern and contemporary design thinking and practice.” It is a living document fueled by submissions from the GSD community. Learn how to submit a book or other printed media.

For more recommended reading, visit A Call To Explore: Design, Race, and the Built Environment book suggestions from the GSD community.

The Fire Next Time

by James Baldwin

Photo of a cover of a book entitled the fire next time

“At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin's early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document. It consists of two ‘letters,' written on the occasion of the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, that exhort Americans, both Black and White, to attack the terrible legacy of racism.”

Call Number: Frances Loeb Library GEN E185.61 .B195 1993
ISBN: 9780679744726
Publication Date: 1993 (orig. 1963)
Publisher: Vintage

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How our Government Segregated America

by Richard Rothstein

Photo of a cover of a book entitled the color of law“Richard Rothstein describes how the American government systematically imposed residential segregation: with undisguised racial zoning; public housing that purposefully segregated previously mixed communities; subsidies for builders to create Whites-only suburbs; tax exemptions for institutions that enforced segregation; and support for violent resistance to African Americans in White neighborhoods.”

Call Number: Frances Loeb Library GEN E185.61 .R8185 2018
ISBN: 9781631494536
Publication Date: 2018
Publisher: Liveright

How to Kill a City: Gentrification, Inequality, and the Fight for the Neighborhood

by Peter Moskowitz

Photo of a cover of a book entitled how to kill a city“Peter Moskowitz's How to Kill a City takes readers from the kitchen tables of hurting families who can no longer afford their homes to the corporate boardrooms and political backrooms where destructive housing policies are devised. Along the way, Moskowitz uncovers the massive, systemic forces behind gentrification in New Orleans, Detroit, San Francisco, and New York.”

Call Number: Widener Library WID-LC HT175 .M67 2017
ISBN: 9781568585239
Publication Date: 2017
Publisher: Bold Type Books

Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors

by Carolyn Finney

Photo of a cover of a book entitled black faces white spaces

Killing Rage: Ending Racism

by bell hooks

Photo of a cover of a book entitled killing rage“Twenty-three essays written from a Black and Feminist perspective tackle the bitter difficulties of racism by envisioning a world without it. They address a spectrum of topics having to do with race and racism in the United States. In the title essay, hooks writes about the ‘killing rage'—the fierce anger of Black people stung by repeated instances of everyday racism—finding in that rage a healing source of love and strength and a catalyst for positive change.”

Call Number: Widener Library WID-LC E185.615 .H645 1995